Metronet: Opposition questions Yanchep rail priority in State Parliament

Labor plans to extend the northern rail line to Yanchep. File picture.
Labor plans to extend the northern rail line to Yanchep. File picture.

THE State Opposition has questioned whether rail to Yanchep should be a high priority during debate about Metronet legislation.

The Legislative Assembly has been debating the Railway (Metronet) Bill 2018 in State Parliament, which will authorise the rail infrastructure construction for the project and the Thornlie-Cockburn Link.

This week , opposition transport spokeswoman Liza Harvey asked why the $520 million Yanchep project was prioritised over rail to Byford.

According to Hansard, Mrs Harvey said a Byford station’s catchment area had a population of 40,000, according to 2016 Census figures, compared to 22,000 people in suburbs north of Butler station.

“There is plenty of land up there, but not many houses, and not many people living there at the moment,” she said.

Mrs Harvey said the previous government’s Transport @ 3.5 Million recommended Yanchep rail would be required when Perth’s population reached 2.7 million, in about 2031.

Labor MP Terry Healy responded that Metronet was “not just about trains and stations” but also about “creating jobs and connecting people”.

On Thursday, Liberal MP Sean L’Estrange said the cost of Metronet would “ramp up debt” and Western Australians would have to subsidise the ongoing cost of operating the rail lines.

Former transport minister Dean Nalder said the opposition supported construction of the rail lines, but was concerned about how Metronet would be funded and whether it would encourage urban sprawl.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said funding for the projects had been redirected from the cancelled Perth freight link and both had positive benefit-cost ratios.

Ms Saffioti said there was housing in the area already and rail would help those communities to connect.

After passing in the Lower House on June 21, the Bill was transmitted to the Legislative Council for debate.

Once enacted, the State Government expects to start construction next year and finish the 13.8km extension, including stations at Alkimos, Eglinton and Yanchep in 2021.

When she introduced the legislation last month, the minister said construction of rail from Butler to Yanchep would service one of Australia’s fastest growing regions.

“The Yanchep Rail Extension will be a catalyst for major planned urban growth to facilitate better land use outcomes around train stations, which will ultimately lead to higher public transport patronage, shorter journey times and better access to jobs,” she said.